Since the Bobcat football team took the field to begin spring practice March 1, the excitement and continuity has progressively escalated.
Texas State will hold its first scrimmage of the season March 23 at 5:40 p.m. The combination of team camaraderie and the excitement new conference has spirits running high.
Senior wide receiver Isaiah Battle said it’s beginning of a tradition change.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen nothing like it,” Battle said. “Everybody is enthusiastic, everybody wants the same thing. Everyone wants to go to the bowl game next year, and everybody wants that conference ring. Everyone is buying into it. I love it.”
The need for discipline remains along with the excitement. Entering his third year at the helm, Coach Dennis Franchione is attempting to implement better tackling skills among his players on the defensive side of the ball.
“This is scrimmage number one, and this will tell us some things about our team,” Franchione said. “It will tell them some things that they need to get better at. For defense, tackling is critical and the scrimmage will show a lot of that right there, how they can tackle and keep the ball in front of them, using leverage and things like that.”
The program is starting to look towards its seniors and returning veterans to invoke leadership within the teams. There are 54 lettermen returning from last year’s team, along with 17 players on offense and 14 players on defense who started games for the Bobcats.
The senior class has recognized the team’s camaraderie, even amongst the new faces in town. Senior Justin Iwuji said the new faces make him that much more excited about the team.
“This spring, I feel like we’ve had leaders from seniors all the way down to freshmen, even to walk-ons,” Iwuji said. “Everybody’s trying to step up and be a leader, everybody’s trying to step up and do their part. I’ve been here for five years and you can just feel something different. We’re so close as a team. It’s the closest we’ve been since I’ve been here.”
A new conference is on the horizon, and the first scrimmage will be a good indicator for Franchione of who will step up and take the reins during the transition period from the WAC to the Sun Belt.
“I still don’t know if our leadership is where I want it yet,” Franchione said. “But I see it growing. I’m hopeful that we’ll elect a leadership council at the end of spring ball. I’m not going to vote for one until I think we have leaders. However, I’m not disappointed in our leadership. I just want it to continue to grow.”
The Bobcats are welcoming the challenge of competing in their third conference in three years.
“There’s always a difference, but it’s football,” Battle said. “It just comes down to being physical, being mentally tough and just doing your job. We’ve turned it up a notch this year to get a different result than we’ve been getting before.”